Veeresh, the Painter

  • Interview with: Veeresh

My signature is pointing to a mandala, which is a point of concentration for meditation. It's like my finger pointing to the moon. The moon is Osho. All my signatures are me pointing to the full moon, Osho. That's the religious significance of my work.

Veeresh, when did painting become important for you?
I started painting as an experiment, as pure pleasure for myself. Then I discovered that people like it. By now I have over-produced; I have over-flooded my market. I used to paint when I was going through detoxification in New York. I would be in hospital for twenty-one days. I got the oils and the canvases from the occupational therapy class, and at eleven o'clock at night, when the lights went out on the ward, I would go in the toilets, where the lights were on permanently. I would set up my easel and the oils and I would start painting. There were about fifteen guys around, watching me, stoned on mace and nutmeg, smoking cigarettes and talking. I enjoyed it very much, although I never considered it serious painting. I was into mountains and circles then. I am still into mountains and circles.

What materials do you like to use?
I like clothing decoration: paint, glitter, combined with acrylics. Generally clothing decoration is thought of as "Christmassy"; it's not considered painting. With normal paint you can never get the effect of the glitters and the different pearly effects of the clothing decoration. I've bastardized the art world by bringing in all these Christmas decorations. If you want to get a sense of motion and water for instance, glitter is perfect. You can spend hours trying to get the right effect with water and the right brush, trying to look natural. With glitter, you need one splash, and you've got water running. Glitter on white. I don't use brushes, because it's too much trouble to clean them. I use pieces of cardboard, so that I can move colors around, and then I get rid of the cardboard immediately. I never have to wash brushes.

How do you choose the colors?
I close my eyes, and everything is black. Then I start to see a pattern that looks like an amoeba-shaped thing. It can be greenish or bluish. It starts to have red and yellow spots, and these develop into patterns, and from there I decide which patterns I want. It's always a challenge, because I see it, but it never quite gets there on the canvas. I love movement and energy. I move my body, and then it's the body energy put onto the canvas. I love mixing bright colors, because that's what I see and feel inside most of the time: explosions of colors. When I'm more cool inside, I go into blue - Zen stuff.

How is it to paint and make music at the same time?
Listening to music and painting goes hand in hand. The music stimulates me, and as I am painting I get ideas for the music. I discovered in painting what in music is called a "tidal wave". You start slowly, you build it up and then you let it go. I like painting because it's fast. I am into what you can call "action painting". In music you have to get every little section together first. You have to be very patient to make the melody, the background, and the rhythms and then you have to put it together. One song can take eight days. If I had all the equipment, and some people to help me move it, I could probably make eight thousand paintings non-stop. I know I could. When I'm in the flow, I keep moving. Painting is a projection of your own trips, of who you are. When you put it down on canvas, it's almost like having a personality test in front of you.

Do you see a connection between therapy and painting?
The whole idea is to create more attention for the work we're doing here, so that we all can be more comfortable and create more. I could make paintings for myself and hide them in my room, but the idea is to spread them. People will say, "Where did these paintings come from? " "They come from Veeresh." "Where is Veeresh? " "Veeresh is at the Humaniversity." "I'm interested in going to the Humaniversity. Maybe I can be a painter..." We have developed certain criteria for a therapist: a therapist has to be a friend, a therapist has to be concerned. One of the criteria will be that a therapist has to be an artist. If you are going to be a fully developed human being and you try to help others, you have to develop everything inside of you. I believe everybody has the ability to do any of the arts. If you want to, you can do it. The problem always comes with comparing yourself to someone else, to what some other people consider to be a standard. The arts are becoming a big part of the commune. We have painting, theater, and music. We are not going to leave therapy, that will always be there, but the arts will be happening more and more.